Do we Care about ORTC on Edge?

September 21, 2015

Yes and no.

Microsoft just announced officially that they have added ORTC to Edge. ORTC is… well… it’s kind’a like’a WebRTC. But not exactly.

Skype adding ORTCSomeone is doing his best NOT to mention WebRTC in all this…

Here are a few random thoughts I had on the subject:

  • It is more about WebRTC than it is about ORTC. Even though WebRTC was mentioned only half as much as ORTC in the text and never in the title (god forbid)
  • Getting “Hello World” to work on ORTC is harder than with WebRTC. Or it might just be me knowing WebRTC betther than ORTC
  • It was perfectly timed to coincide with Skype’s own support for it
  • Voice using Opus is a win. I wonder when we will see interoperability for a voice call between Edge and Chrome [UPDATE: check the comments below – there already is. With Firefox as well]
  • Video using H.264UC (=proprietary) and later H.264 with no mention of VP8 or VP9 is a loss. Not for Microsoft but for the industry
  • Codecs, especially video ones, are going to cause major headaches moving forward. I wonder how web developers will swallow this sour pill
  • Will developers start using H.264 instead of VP8 now that it is apparent all browsers supporting WebRTC in 2016 will have H.264, but some won’t have VP8?
  • While Windows 10 is showing promise in its adoption (and aggressive push by Microsoft), the adoption of Edge is worrying. If numbers don’t increase, will it even matter if ORTC is there or which codecs Microsoft chose to incorporate?
  • The whole idea of getting Microsoft onboard is to get enterprises market share for WebRTC – where no other browser than Microsoft’s can penetrate. But if Edge isn’t there – then who really cares? It may well be like testing your service runs well on Opera (I am sure you did)
  • Here’s the rub though:
    • ORTC by the way isn’t a standard. It is a W3C Community Group
    • To get things into the HTML5 spec, ORTC needs to contribute their proposals to the W3C WebRTC Working Group
    • This process means that the APIs may change until it actually get standardized by W3C
    • It makes ORTC APIs less stable than those of WebRTC, and we’ve seen how people complained about the frequent changes in the browser APIs of WebRTC
    • Can Microsoft maintain this process?
  • This means that the next version of Edge will have different APIs for ORTC than the current one, and that this will continue for at least a year if not longer
  • Microsoft will need to release Edge at the same frequency that Google releases Chrome – every month or two
  • It will also need to handle deprecation of APIs at a fast pace – can its target customers (enterprise) handle that?

All in all, another good indicator for the health of this community and real time communications in the web.

For a real analysis, read Alex’s ruminations on ORTC in Edge.


So, where exactly is WebRTC available? Check out my free WebRTC Device Cheat Sheet.

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  1. “Do we Care about ORTC on Edge?”

    Yes, in the long run, because we all want interop. Let’s be honest, that is the most important goal. Looks like in the longer run we’ll even get open video codecs.

    Current feeling about WebRTC: optimistic.

    In the short term: there is lots of change in the world, deal with it ! 😉

  2. Interesting post! Well from the stats of our own service, we have started to care less and less about IE or Edge. 95% of the people that use our Webmeeting service have chrome or firefox. Yes, some users try with IE first time but we can see they come back in seconds with chrome. So they have Chrome installed and ready to switch to it. I think we have waited so long, might as well push on and see Microsoft wipe it self out of the browser market. Microsoft’s Skype Agenda is just to big to expect an open standard answer from Microsoft. I say within 2 years Microsofts market share in browser will be less than 10%.

    1. Nick,

      You raise an important point – the fact that the need for a specific browser or OS depends a lot on the use case – where your customers are located and who they are.

      Edge support can be important to some, but irrelevant to others.

  3. Aren’t people like TemaSys making plugins for MS Edge too? Will we be able to ask our users to install TemaSys plugin if they really want to use MS Edge? Main reason for us to use ORTC alongwith WebRTC will be just to save users from plugins. This is what WebRTC aims towards. Looks like there is no turning back now. If Microsoft has started with ORTC then we might not be able to see WebRTC support ever. I hope there will come something like adapter.js so that we won’t have to write two set of codes; one for MS Edge browser and one for other browsers which support WebRTC.

    1. There are already flavors of adapter.js that work with MS Edge for the basic use cases. They don’t offer interoperability – just the ability to use the same code across browsers.

      As for Temasys, I can’t answer for them, but as far as I know, there’s no plugin infrastructure available for Microsoft Edge at all, so even those who wish to do that aren’t able to anyway.

      1. Two more questions. I am asking here as this is the most relevant post and it also made me read it twice.

        When Chrome will be available without Plugin like Edge?

        Also when do you think WenRTC/ORTC support in Edge will be completed?

  4. – Getting “Hello World” to work on ORTC is harder than with WebRTC
    I disagree. However, it does not matter, use a library. It’s not like web developers deal with the DOM directly all day, we have jQuery for that. Oh wait, that sounds familiar… see

    – “Voice using Opus is a win”. Well, not just yet, the codec preference is SILK, G722, Opus, G.711 so for interop, g.722 will be used currently. See above re interop 🙂

    – “It makes ORTC APIs less stable than those of WebRTC, and we’ve seen how people complained about the frequent changes in the browser APIs of WebRTC”. I have not yet complained about all the last-minute changes to the PeerConnection API. But I think the “hybrid model” offered currently is the wrong way. I must have missed developers asking for those changes, this is more design-by-committee.

    – “This means that the next version of Edge will have different APIs for ORTC than the current one”. Read my webrtchacks post again. There are already differences between the spec and the Edge implementation. However, that doesn’t matter. I don’t see people complaining about all the differences between the spec and Chrome either.

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